Menopause is a stressful time in many women’s lives. After 30 or 40 years of a certain amount of oestrogen, at age 45-55 it is (often quite dramatically) reduced. Symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, increased urinary tract infections, weight gain, mood changes, and dry skin and hair are commonly experienced, along with, of course, reduced frequency of menstruation. Some times the lead up to this change in menstrual frequency can be met with increased bleeding, increased duration of the period, and increased pain. The average duration of all of these symptoms is between two and four years! That is a long time to put up with all of this unpleasantness.
There are also many more serious health problems that happen around this time too. Osteoporosis, heart disease and high blood pressure, and some cancers, including breast cancer are more likely to occur.
It also comes at a moment in many women’s lives that is also stressful for other reasons. Children are growing up and leaving home, parents are becoming elderly, there are career pressures, and marital relationships are often changing. No wonder it can be such a tough time for many women.
There are many options for women to ease the load on their bodies during menopause. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and regularly exercising are all things that will definitely help their bodies work better. Reducing stress is also crucial. I always say to my patients, that every cell in your body is under stress as it is not exposed to the oestrogen that it is used to, so that alone is stressful enough. So simplifying their lives is also part of the transition through menopause.
Including foods that are high in phytoestrogens is also very helpful. This is because plant oestrogens can help to fill the empty oestrogen receptors in the woman’s body and therefore help to reduce her symptoms. Examples of foods containing phytoestrogens are flaxseeds (linseeds), soybeans, soymilk, tofu, and other soy products, and sprouts (alfalfa, mung bean). A full list can be found on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytoestrogens#Food_sources Check out my coconut soybean curry recipe
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), and the jury is still out on this issue. Despite recent research stating that it is now safe, many women, including myself, don’t trust this. I personally would like more work done in this area before I make my mind up as a practitioner and a women. For an interesting article on this issue, please read further: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/women_shealth/9292495/HRT-shows-why-health-scares-cant-be-trusted.html
Many women seek naturopathic assistance during this time as well. I have had some fantastic success with my patients who are suffering from menopause with the use of dietary and lifestyle changes, along with some very powerful herbs and nutrients. Don’t suffer alone! There is help out there. You may be interested in my Menopause Program for more help.
For more information on menopause, please look at the below website: